By Mark L. Bardenwerper
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
Since the rise of the Internet, email lists, or “groups,” evolved to become one of the principle methods Citroën owners and enthusiasts use to disseminate information. Gone were many of the old newsletters and magazines. In the ’90s, the service was provided by individuals, who maintained their own servers. Some of them only ran when their computers were on! In time, businesses stepped in to provide such niceties as photo and file storage and message archiving, most of them free. Even though a lot of incidental message traffic is now diverted to social media such as Facebook, the groups have continued with varying rates of use. Yahoo was the default provider and there were groups for almost every Citroën model. Their archives expanded steadily, with irreplaceable information of all sorts. The beauty of these email groups is that this information was easily searchable and theoretically, very safe.
However, in October, Yahoo announced that they would no longer provide web support for their email groups. On October 28, they discontinued uploads and on December 14, all existing data would be permanently deleted. A handful of people, including Blair Anderson, Ben Boyle and I attempted with mixed success to save the information and restart a new set of email groups on a service called, “Groups.io.”
Because of the sudden deluge of new accounts, Groups.io had to change its policy on transfers, justifyingly increasing its fee for transfer service to pay for new server space and manpower. Some of the larger groups adopted this method; their data and all of the member lists were moved intact to the new home. It was a slow, frustrating process, with the Yahoo servers shutting down unpredictably. One transfer could take up to three weeks, but in the end, they were saved in their entirety.
The other groups had to be moved using less effective methods. Each had its own set of issues to surmount. Some of the groups were small, unable to make the transfer fee. Active group owners, having access to the member lists, harvested them and invited the entire list to the new group. Files and photos were saved manually. But the archives were left behind.
Worst, some of the owners of the lists either quit or lost access to their pages. Several of them had passed away. Faced with that scenario, it was not possible to obtain complete member lists. The only recourse was to send messages to the old group describing the situation and ask them to move to the new list. This proved to be very hit or miss, as some members no longer monitored, or perhaps they distrusted our warning.
While the time and stress consumed was considerable, by far the most tragic loss was the searchable email archives. Most of the groups lost as much as twenty years of collective knowledge. We can console ourselves in the fact that email groups will continue on. Groups.io has been a lifesaver. Email groups will continue into the era of social media and in fact are better than ever, with new tools and features we have yet to utilize effectively.
If you have lost contact with your group, or if you are interested in availing yourself to this valuable and still free service, go to the Groups.io website and search for “Citroen,” then join the groups of your choice. If you do not see one, start one.